Mike Huckabee sat out of the 2012 race, but he may give it another shot in 2016 – or would at least like us to think that he might. The former Arkansas governor and current talk show host said in an interview Thursday night that he's getting encouragement to run "from places where I never got it before." He added that Republicans need to do a better job of reaching out to all voters. "One of our failures is the ability to speak to African-Americans, to speak to Hispanics, to speak to working class people," he said. "More than just speaking to the board room, speaking to the people who go in and clean up after the meeting." Okay, just don't say it like that.
Thursday was not a smooth night at Rikers Island, where someone set a mattress on fire in a holding area for women, and the smoke it produced sent 14 staffers to the hospital. All 14 suffered smoke inhalation, "and authorities said several of the patients were in serious but stable condition," The New York Post reports. No word on the fate of the inmates.
Fordham University managed to simultaneously screw with 2,500 prospective students when a third-party financial aid contractor it had hired sent out letters to them saying, "Congratulations once again on your admission to Fordham University." The problem was, none of them had actually been admitted. At least not yet. Five hundred were rejected outright while the rest had their decisions deferred to April 1, a spokesman told The New York Times. On Thursday, Fordham had to apologize to those who received the letter. "The University deeply regrets that some applicants were misled by the financial aid notice. The admission staff is working with S.A.S. to find out what went wrong," the school said in a statement. Too bad those kids are too young to drink.
While much was made of Congress's minor bipartisan accomplishment this week, lawmakers are capping off 2013 with a fittingly ridiculous stunt. To get back at Harry Reid for scaling back their ability to filibuster, Republicans are using other confusing Senate rules to delay votes on President Obama's nominees, who must be approved by the end of the year or go through the whole confirmation process again. In retaliation, Reid is scheduling votes at all hours of the day and night and threatening to keep the body in session through Christmas Eve. With the Senate poised for a second all-nighter in a row on Thursday, lawmakers were turning to Red Bull and cat naps on their office couches in what the New York Times describes as "an endurance contest to see who could be the most spiteful."
Twitter changed one of its policies on Thursday in a way that made so many of its users so upset that they pressured the company, successfully, to change it back in a matter of hours. The policy in question was Twitter's "block" function, which it changed to allow users to view and contact people who had blocked them, and to make it so that those doing the blocking could do so without alerting the blockee."Before it backtracked, Twitter had said Thursday that the change was meant to protect victims of harassment who wanted to filter out abusive messages but feared that the act of blocking a user would prompt retaliation," Reuters reports. But users saw it as tantamount to unblocking everybody, and flooded Twitter with complaints.
On Thursday evening, the House of Representatives passed the two-year bipartisan budget deal hammered out by Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray by a vote of 332 to 94, with support from 169 Republicans and 163 Democrats. The agreement, which replaces some sequestration cuts and reduces the deficit by $22.5 billion over the next decade, is generally considered a pretty modest proposal, but that didn't stop conservative groups from railing against it. The Senate is expected to pass the bill and the president has said he will sign it, so it's unlikely we'll see a government shutdown in the near future. But the more immediate benefit was getting to watch House Speaker John Boehner flip out on the deal's conservative opponents at his weekly press conference.
In the first investigation of its kind into a passenger railroad, the Federal Railroad Administration is planning to take an especially close look at Metro-North's operations and its "safety culture" after months of mishaps culminated in the recent derailment that killed four in the Bronx. With 50 investigators working for an expected 60 days, Operation Deep Dive, as they're calling it, will examine all 750 miles of Metro-North track, as well as the railroad's rolling stock, signals, communications, training, medical requirements, and of course safety procedures. The MTA, which operates Metro-North, said it had been conducting its own safety review since the spring. Obviously, the feds think it needs a little help.
Sometimes Homeland seems overly outlandish ... and then real life happens.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's uncle and former right-hand man, Jang Song-thae, has been executed, according to an announcement from state-controlled news agency KCNA. He was removed from office earlier this month over what were later reported to be allegations of mismanaging the country's financial system, corruption, and leading a "dissolute" life of drugs, drinking, and womanizing. According to the KCNA statement released today, a "special military tribunal" decided to have Jang (who was married to Kim Jong-il's sister, Kim Kyong-hui) killed after determining that he had plotted to overthrow his nephew's government.
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